Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) University of California researchers have developed a lens-free imaging technique small enough to fit in a mobile phone, which can be a boon in developing countries where healthcare is non existent.

The study outlines improvements in a technique known as LUCAS, or 'lensless ultra-wide-field cell monitoring array,' platform based on shadow imaging.

LUCAS technique demonstrated a method for quickly and accurately counting targeted cell types in a homogenous cell solution. Removing lens from the imaging process allows LUCAS to be scaled down for integration into a cellphone. Samples could be loaded into a specially equipped phone using a disposable microfluidic chip.

University of California, Los Angeles researchers have further refined LUCAS technique to be able to classify a significantly larger sample volume - up to 5 ml, up from a tenth of one ml - representing a major step toward portable medical diagnostic applications.

The research team, led by Aydogan Ozcan, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, includes postdoctoral scholar Sungkyu Seo, doctoral student Ting-Wei Su, master's student Derek Tseng and undergraduate Anthony Erlinger.

Ozcan envisions people one day being able to draw a blood sample into a chip the size of a quarter, which could then be inserted into a LUCAS-equipped cell phone that would quickly identify and count the cells within the sample. The read-out could be sent wirelessly to a hospital for further analysis.

These findings will be published in the quarterly Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering and is currently available online